The Netflix original movie The Swimmers, starring Lebanese actresses and real-life sisters, Nathalie and Manal Issa, opened the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Nathalie and Manal played the role of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini, who flee Syria’s war-torn capital Damascus to seek refuge in Europe.
They first cross Lebanon and Turkey, and then take a lethal and miraculous journey, as they get stuck in the Aegean Sea, in an overcrowded refugees’ boat.
The sisters, and others who could swim, ensured the safety of the drowning passengers and helped them to get to shore. Yusra and Sara Mardini then make it to Greece and continued to Germany.
Directed by Swedish-Egyptian Sally El Hosaini, the movie is based on the true story of Yusra, who was selected to compete for the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Meanwhile, her sister Sarah became active in helping refugees.
The Swimmers‘ cast also includes Egyptian Ahmed Malek, German Matthias Schweighöfer, Palestinian Ali Suliman, Syrian Kinda Alloush, and Somali-English Elmi Rashid Elmi.